February 2019: During Brexit negotiations, the EU said the UK cannot retain full access to its Galileo satellite program after Brexit. In November, the UK government officially announced it would be pulling out of the system to concentrate on scoping an alternative system.

"Going it alone" could permit the UK to design a system built to the specifications of just one country without needing to meet the requirements imposed by all 28 EU member states. Starting your own global system “is not something you decide to give a shot to see how it goes. It’s a perpetual commitment,” Dr. Humphreys said. “In the US, it costs up to a billion dollars just to maintain our system every year.”

The UK Space Agency, now tendering a series of key contracts, has been given £92 million to conduct a feasibility study. The government expects it will take 18 months for this initial assessment. While opinions vary on the timetable for arriving at a fully-fledged system, Dr. Humphreys suggests that “if the UK had a clear mission and the funding, they could field a system in five years.”

Read the full article featuring Dr. Humphreys.